Iconic Sports Groups

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Sunday marked the final time the Melbourne Storm would field their iconic trio of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.

Cronk is certainly leaving the Storm and possibly retiring, while Slater is weighing up his future after a couple of injury plagued years prior to 2017.

Smith on the other hand seems to be set on playing for a while yet, having publicly stated he plans to re-sign with the Storm and chase the 400 game milestone.

The trio was formed in 2004 when Cronk started to play with regularity but they truly emerged in 2006 when the Storm’s era of dominance started.

Looking back at that time got us nostalgic about some of the other iconic groups that have helped dominate their respective fields.

The Woodies – Mark Woodforde & Todd Woodbridge

Throughout the 1990’s, there were few more dominant Australians than “The Woodies.”

Todd Woodbrige’s lightning quick net play meshed perfectly with Mark Woodforde’s reliable baseline play to make them a force to be reckoned with.

Over the course of ten years, they won an astonishing 61 doubles titles including 11 Grand Slams an Olympic Gold Medal in Atlanta 1996 and the 1999 Davis Cup.

They finished the year as the number one doubles team in five of those years and from 1992-2000 they never dropped below third.

The duo ended their pairing at the end of 2000 having finally claimed that elusive French Open and were inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.

Fab Four – Michael Voss, Simon Black, Nigel Lappin & Jason Akermanis

At the heart of the Brisbane Lions Three-Peat in the early 2000’s was their excellent midfield.

The unit of Voss, Black, Lappin and Akermanis helped them overrun opponents and were rewarded with three straight Premierships, two Brownlows,  several All-Australians and a 2003 Norm Smith Medal for Black.

2005 saw the run of the Fab Four beginning to end when Black’s season was interrupted by injury before Voss retired and Akermanis was traded after 2006.

Lappin lasted until 2008 when injuries ultimately forced him to call time on his career.

Black continued to play and set the record for most games played in Bears/Lions history before becoming the first player in AFL history to win a Brownlow, Norm Smith and Premiership while playing in 300 games.

Dallas Cowboys Triplets – Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin & Emmitt Smith

In April 1988, the Dallas Cowboys selected Michael Irvin in the first round of the NFL Draft, starting the formation of The Triplets that would provide the foundation of the Cowboys winning three Super Bowls in four seasons.

One year later Troy Aikman was picked with the first overall pick however his career got off to a rough start, failing to win a single game but it would get better with the acquisition of Emmitt Smith the following offseason.

Injuries, especially to Aikman, derailed the first couple of seasons that this trio was together but in 1992 things clicked and they won the Super Bowl with a 52-17 thumping of Buffalo.

Two more titles followed but the Cowboys could not return to the promised land and the trio broke up in 1999 when Irvin sustained a career ending spinal injury.

Just as they were drafted Aikman followed a year later when his history of concussions ended his career, however he has been back to the Super Bowl as a commentator since then.

Smith on the other hand just kept going and going, spending his final two seasons on the Arizona Cardinals before retiring in 2004 as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.

Man United Class of 92 – David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and more

The final of the 1992 FA Youth Cup between Manchester United and Crystal Palace introduced the football world to a group that help would raise Manchester United up to one of Europe’s premiere clubs.

For what it’s worth, they won that final 6-3 on aggregate over two legs but what they would achieve at the end of the decade was much more impressive.

Under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson, this group of players was captained by Gary Neville and included Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, all of whom would, along with fellow youngsters Paul Scholes and Phil Neville feature in the United first team as they won multiple trophies.

Giggs roamed the left wing for the first team while playing in the youth side as well before becoming a full time first teamer in 1993 along with Butt.

Gary Neville was at United for 20 years and formed a successful right sided partnership with David Beckham before the latter’s departure in 2003, Phil Neville spent ten seasons in the United first team but was at Everton for almost a decade after that as well.

The final member of this group was Paul Scholes who was technically in the “Class of 93” but his impact on the United first team warrants inclusion on this list.

Chicago Bulls – Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman

No list would be complete without these triplets, headlined by the greatest basketball player ever Michael Jordan.

Pippen and Jordan combined for the franchise’s first “three-peat” from 1991-1993 before Jordan’s shock retirement to go and play baseball.

Upon his return, the Bulls added the volatile Rodman as an inside rebounding presence and went for another three-peat.

What worked best about this trio was that everyone had their own roles and understood they needed to work together, despite the eccentric Rodman and the obsessively motivated Jordan.